Tag Archives: william hague

Daily View 2×2: 4 November 2009

2 Big Stories

Tory trouble as Lisbon Treaty passes
As the Czech President Vaclav Klaus ratified the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – now set to become law within a few weeks – the Conservative Party once again finds itself risking deep divisions over Europe rising to the surface.

As the Daily Express reports:

denied that the party had broken any promises by dropping the referendum pledge.

“A British referendum until this very day would have meant that the Lisbon Treaty wouldn’t enter into force if people voted no. The position of president of the European Council, the foreign minister of Europe, would never have been implemented,” he said.

“We were very clear that our promise applied to those circumstances. After today, those things will come into force and a referendum can’t change them, it can’t unwind them, it can’t prevent those things being created.

However for Tory Eurosceptics it has become an article of faith after Mr Cameron gave a “cast iron guarantee” two years ago that he would give the British people a chance to vote on the treaty.

Eurosceptic Conservative MP Bill Cash said he had written to Mr Cameron urging him to “reconsider” his decision not to hold a referendum, saying the Tory leader had been “badly advised”.

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Bagehot praises Nick’s Afghan policy

Bagehot, the pseudonym of The Economist’s British politics columnist/blogger, has written a post sticking up for Nick Clegg following criticism aimed at him from both left (in the shape of The Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley) and right (James Forsyth in The Spectator):

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has been unfairly treated for saying in public what a large number of other people are confiding in private. … the doubts Mr Clegg has expressed about the strategy, resources and prospects of the Afghan campaign are shared by many others.

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Deputy PMQs: Vince tackles Harriet on bankers’ bonuses

Y’know I’ve expressed my general contempt for the pantomime which passes for Prime Minister’s Questions on many occasions: it’s theatre, mirage, insubstantial: all performance, no content. But we discovered today there’s something worse than the usual rowdy PMQs: when there’s both no performance and no content.

It’s hard to remember that William Hague once had a fearsome Commons reputation for being the best, sparkiest, wittiest debater on the block. Perhaps all those after-dinner speeches have dulled his senses – or perhaps he reckons he’s not paid enough to waste all his best lines on Parliament – but today’s performance against Prime Ministerial stand-in Harriet Harman was lame and dull. To put it in context, he made Harriet look actually quite good. She wasn’t – she was anodyne and frequently out-of-her-depth – but the comparison was to her credit, not his. Still, at least Mr Hague was better than Gordon Brown.

Vince Cable rose, as is traditional, to cheers from all-corners of the house. He started with a dry, slightly obscure, joke in Harriet’s honour – “may I express the hope that when she was briefing the Prime Minister for talks with his friend Signor Berlusconi, she remembered to enclose an Italian translation of her progressive views on gender equality?” – but then stuck to the touchstone issue among the public at the moment: how can government ministers talk of the need for public sector pay restraint when they are signing-off large bonuses for executives in banks currently majority-owned by the public? Harriet made a half-heartedly fierce show of sounding tough while committing the Government to nothing.

In a low-scoring contest, Vince edges it both for injecting (a little) humour into proceedings, and (more importantly) for asking a question that matters to the public, on an issue the government can do something about, and where his own party has something distinctive to say. Mr Hague, take note.

Full Hansard transcript of Vince and Harriet’s exchanges follow:

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YouTube ‘cos we want to: Tory leaders special

Welcome to this latest instalment of our new LDV feature rounding up some of the best/worst/most curious political videos doing the rounds.

How could I not start with David ‘Veer are yur papeers?’ Cameron’s indulgence in a bit of outdated xeno-stereotyping. I find it hard to get worked-up by it – and it certainly doesn’t qualify as racist. It’s just not very Prime Ministerial, is it?

Speaking of not very Prime Ministerial, let’s remind ourselves of one of the prime reasons the Tories are so relieved to have Mr Cameron as their leader: Iain Duncan Smith, here in full oratorical flow ‘turning up the volume’:

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William Hague’s sideswipe at Alan Duncan

Over at ConservativeHome they’ve got an interview with William Hague, in which he makes this comment about Have I Got News For You:

I took the view that appearing on it is not compatible with being on the Front Bench.

Now, who’s recently appeared on that show? His fellow Conservative front bencher, Alan Duncan. Oops.

Or maybe not so oops, given the frequent political chatter that Alan Duncan won’t make it into any future Conservative Cabinet, his little expenses problem, his forgetfulness when it comes to policy ideas, his secret funding controversy and his donation from a …

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Lib Dems urge Tories not to join with homophobes

Lib Dem equalities spokesperson Lynne Featherstone has written to the Tories shadow foreign affairs spokesman William Hague asking him to clarify if his party intends to join forces with a Polish party in the European parliament known for its homophobic remarks. Politics.co.uk reports:

The party in question is called the Polish Law and Justice party. The Tories are being pulled towards them after leaving their grouping in the European parliament – the centre-right European People’s party. It was the culmination of a promise David Cameron made while running to be party leader, but he must now form a grouping with at least six other parties to earn EU recognition and funding.

But Liberal Democrats and Labour warned the party could easily be thrown into the arms of non-mainstream parties, putting them on “the lunatic fringe” of European politics. Senior politicians from the Law and Justice party have made homophobic statements, as well as describing Barack Obama’s election in the US as marking “the end of white man’s civilisation”, the Liberal Democrats said.

The full text of Lynne’s letter to Mr Hague is below:

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Lord Ashcroft and the Conservative Party: the financial controversies

Cross-posted from The Wardman Wire:

With Michael Ashcroft back in the news over his financial support for the Conservative Party, this post provides a quick recap of the past controversies over Michael Ashcroft, the Conservative Party and political funding.

Ashcroft’s sequence of senior Conservative posts

Under William Hague, Ashcroft was Treasurer of the Conservative Party (1998-2001), becoming a peer and member of the House of Lords in 2000. He was involved in a protracted dispute with The Times, which had been investigating some of the sources of his wealth. A libel action was settled out of court, with both sides paying their own legal costs.

After Hague’s departure, there was a gap of several years before Ashcroft once again held senior office in the Conservative Party, coming back as Deputy Chairman after the 2005 general election. This role, combined with his financial contributions, have given him huge influence over the Conservative Party’s target seats operation.

Ashcroft’s influence on the Conservative Party’s direction

He paid privately for an extensive polling operation during the 2005 campaign, the results of which – along with his book, Smell the coffee: A wake-up call for the Conservative Party – played a significant part in the modernising debates in the Conservative Party.

Tim Montgomerie has commented on ConservativeHome that, “I think his polling operation and Smell The Coffee report did too much to send the Cameron project in an über-modernising direction.”

Ashcroft and the House of Lords

Prior to being made a peer in 2000, Michael Ashcroft promised that he would return to the UK and pay income tax:

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Putting private interests before national interest: the three Tory shadow cabinet members who faced down their leader

Tory leader David Cameron has been forced to abandon plans to make all members of his shadow cabinet drop their lucrative outside retainers after three of his team vowed to quit if he did so. The FT broke the story this morning, noting:

Conservative strategists remain concerned about the potential political damage the “part-time” nature of the shadow cabinet could cause. The onset of recession will add weight to Labour jibes that Mr Cameron’s “two-jobs team” is not devoting its full attention to mitigating the impact of the downturn.

The party leader’s efforts to portray his party as in touch with

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PMQs: Vince tackles Harriet on housing

It says something about the repellant oiliness of Cameron and the monolithic self-righteousness of Gordon Brown that I am pleased to see Harriet Harman and William Hague at the ballot box today. Mind you, for technical reasons, I am listening from the next room.

Hague ranges over the recession’s effects on small businesses and the need to tackle unemployment – trying to cut Vince’s ground out from under him? Good luck with that. Harman: Brown is “Superman” to Cameron’s “Joker”. The hubris of these people is unbelievable. I sometimes wonder why the entire Liberal Democrat contingent doesn’t

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FT: Tories to ditch Osborne in favour of Hague?

A month ago Lib Dem Voice’s Alix Mortimer suggested it was high-time the Tories considered ditching their under-whelming shadow chancellor, George Osborne:

My guess is that Cameron is wincing his way through the current crisis, burying his head in a cushion every time George goes on TV, and he’s planning the reshuffle. He hasn’t spent all this time and effort decontaminating the Tory brand to have his plans trashed by some oily twerp who hides his weekly treasury briefings down the back of the sofa, old mate or not. He can’t afford to go into a General Election side-by-side

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PMQs: Cable tackles Harman on unemployment and interest rates

With our Superman Prime Minister currently bestriding the globe like a Colossus of financial acuity, it was left to Harriet Harman at today’s Question Time to bat for the Government and laud the financial bail-out as Gordon Brown’s Dunkirk. It was not her finest hour. Ms Harman struggled to sound on top of her brief throughout the half-hour exchange, with both Vince Cable and William Hague asking tough questions that left her visibly floundering.

You can watch Vince’s encounter for yourself via YouTube here, or read the Hansard transcript, below:

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PMQs: Vince tackles Harriet on housing

It was all-change at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, as Gordon Brown was detained at the G8 summit – which meant a turn in the spotlight for the party leaders’ deputies, Harriet Harman, William Hague and Vince Cable.

Vince led on the crisis in the housing industry, demanding to know of Ms Harman if Labour will “build up their sensible but pathetically small programme for acquiring property and give genuine freedom to councils and housing associations to acquire property in order to let it out to the 1.7 million people in housing need on waiting lists?” As is traditional, his question went unanswered.

Particularly delicious was Vince’s suggestion that Mr Brown stop “lecturing us on what we should eat for dinner, and competing with the leader of the Conservative party to be the country’s weight watcher-in-chief”.

With mounting speculation that Ms Harman might just be prepared to step into the breach should Mr Brown be evicted from No. 10 by the comrades in grey suits, it was a big day for her: she will not be best pleased by the reviews. When last Ms Harman stood in for the PM, she attracted glowing praise for besting Mr Hague at the despatch box. But she didn’t hit her stride this time, with her attempts at jokes appearing overly pre-rehearsed.

Whether this would matter a jot in the event of a vacancy is moot – after all, according to PoliticsHome.com’s PH5,000 tracker of popular opinion, two-thirds of the public rarely if ever catch PMQs, even as a snippet on TV or radio news bulletins. However, as Ming Campbell discovered to his eventual cost, it’s certainly noticed by political commentators, and even one poor showing can prove detrimental to how a politician is depicted in the media.

Anyway you can judge for yourselves below, via YouTube and Hansard:

Posted in Parliament | 5 Comments

BBC Question Time: open thread

Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord (Paddy) Ashdown is one of the panellists on tonight’s Question Time (and is broadcast on BBC1 and online from 10.35 pm GMT).

The panel will include the Secretary of State for Defence (but for how much longer?) Des Browne, the shadow foreign secretary William Hague, the “writer and author” (according to the BBC website; not the epithet I’d use) Richard Littlejohn and the journalist Polly Toynbee.

If you’re not at an election count right now, and want to sound-off, please feel free to use the comments thread.

Posted in Lib Dem TV and News | Also tagged | 37 Comments

William Hague isn’t the only one in a bit of geographic bother

Google’s coming under criticism for how it names different seas in Google Earth as this petition highlights. Google’s policy is explained here.

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William Hague has a little trouble with geography

It isn’t that easy to get a ship to sail to Uganda you know. What with it being a land-locked country and all that.

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Lib Dem Euro walk-out: Ed Davey writes…

Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Ed Davey has penned an article for The Independent’s Open House blog explaining why he ended up being sent out of the Commons, and why the rest of the parliamentary party followed him. You can read it in full here, but here’s an excerpt:

At the last election, all three parties stood on manifestos that included a pledge for a vote on the then Constitutional Treaty, a Treaty that was truly historic, replacing all the past Treaties, from Rome to Maastricht and Nice, with one new EU Constitution. Difficult to deny this was a matter

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EU treaty referendum: the Davey defence

I’ll readily confess to remaining uncomfortable with the Lib Dem position on opposing holding a referendum on the EU reform treaty. I do not like to see banner headlines on the BBC News Politics website proclaiming: Lib Dems oppose referendum vote.

It does not sit well with the widely-proclaimed belief of both candidates during the leadership contest that the party needed to become more spiky, anti-establishment, and to put the people – not politicians – in control of their own lives. Nor does it sit well with our previous, principled stance (alone among the three mainstream parties) that the Maastricht treaty should be subjected to a popular vote. On principle, and in campaigning terms, I think the party has made a mistake.

However, credit where it’s due to Ed Davey, our new shadow foreign secretary, who put forward a trenchant and persuasive argument in last night’s House of Commons debate on the Lisbon treaty. Read it for yourself, and judge it for yourself…

Posted in Europe / International, News and Parliament | Also tagged | 97 Comments

Anyone know what the Tory party’s policy on Europe is today?

Last month, David Cameron went to great obfuscatory pains to refuse to give a straight answer to journalists asking if the Tory party would offer a post-ratification referendum on the EU Reform Treaty if they found themselves in government – a position not helped by a member of his shadow cabinet promising “absolutely” that the Tories would.

Now it’s Dave’s own shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, who’s broken ranks with his leader in today’s Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech – as the BBC’s Nick Robinson notes on his blog:

The Shadow Foreign Secretary went through the usual list

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Who are the most-quoted opposition MPs?

Iain Dale has produced his monthly list of Tory shadow cabinet ‘media tarts’, based on their total number of mentions in the UK newspapers, according to the Lexis-Nexis database.

Rather kindly, he has also compiled the figures for four Lib Dems: Ming Campbell, Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Vince Cable.

Merge the two lists, and here’s what we find for September:

1. David Cameron 2527
2. Ming Campbell 701
3. George Osborne 355
4. Nick Clegg 255
5. William Hague 225
6. Chris Huhne 201
7. David Davis 162
8. Vince Cable 152

Yes, that’s right – half of the top eight most-mentioned …

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